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British shipping companies (C)

Last modified: 2021-05-29 by rob raeside
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Coast Development Corporation

(Belle Steamers)

[Coast Development Corporation houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 30 April 2021

Formed in January 1898, it incorporated Belle Steamers, pier and land interests in Clacton and also Walton-on-the-Naze. The latest steamer, PS "Yarmouth Belle", was delivered in time for the main 1898 season, going to Great Yarmouth. Importantly, a newly extended pier at Walton, now owned by the Belle Steamers parent company, became an important steamer call and from 1900-1904, steamers called at the more northerly pier before the more treacherous and tide-bound Clacton pier. This gave Walton "first call" for London excursionists and a new role as the interchange point for onward passengers to the more northerly resorts.

The company purchased land at Southwold in 1898 and set about the development of the small resort, with new roads, a large hotel, a pier and a new steamer, to be called PS "Southwold Belle", which entered service in the mid-summer of 1900. A pier was also built at Lowestoft (Claremont Pier) and opened in 1903 and a further pier at Felixstowe in 1905.

In March 1905 the company was in financial difficulty and wound up, with its assets taken over by the Coast Development Corporation, but retaining its original board of directors.
Operations were extended to provide services to the Kent coast from Essex and cruises along the southern bank of the Thames Estuary. This area was well served by the General Steam Navigation Company and New Palace Steamers, so would never provide the financial benefit the company sorely needed.

At the end of the 1911 season, the newest vessel, "Southwold Belle" was sold to pay off mounting debts. In May 1915, with World War I in progress and excursion traffic all but disappeared, the Corporation went into voluntary liquidation. The assets of the company remained with liquidators until much of the fleet (no vessels were lost on wartime duty) were purchased by Mr E Kingsman of Clacton in 1921 and then were transferred to the PSM Syndicate in 1922.

The Bell Steamers were:
"Clacton" (1888)
"Clacton Belle" (1890-1915)
"Woolwich Belle" (1891-1924)
"London Belle" (1893-1929)
"Southend Belle" (1896-1929)
"Walton Belle" (1897-1925)
"Yarmouth Belle" (1898-1929)
"Southwold Belle" (1900-1913)
River Thames Historical

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Coast Development Corporation (Belle Steamers) (#1234, p. 95) as triangular, vertically divided red-white-red with the counter-colored letters "B" and "S" in the first stripes.
Ivan Sache, 30 April 2021

Coast Lines

Version 1

Based in London, ran UK-Ireland ferries and London - Falmouth, Liverpool, and numerous other coastal services.
Jarig Bakker, 11 October 2003

[Coast Lines houseflag] image by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 11 October 2003

Version 2

[Coast Lines houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker

In "All about Ships and Shipping", 1959 is another flag: blue, white, red, white and blue horizontal stripes (International "C" flag), with CL in Blue.
Jarig Bakker, 11 October 2003

"Flags and Funnels of the British and Commonwealth Merchant Fleets" also shows this flag.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 16 June 2006

Version 3

[Coast Lines houseflag] image by Rob Raeside

Coast Lines Ltd. The white flag with red saltire and black "C" was adopted in 1917 when the company changed names from Powell, Bacon & Hough Lines being replaced by the striped flag, which incorporated the colours of the original three founders, in 1937 so Sampson (1957) is rather behind the times. Talbot-Booth (1938) noted the change and then for some reason proceeded to show in his WW2 books a version with a black "C" overall though again in 1944 he notes that the single "C" being replaced by "C.L." in black which is incorrect both for the colour and the dots. The company itself was taken over by P&O in 1970/1 and became their Short Sea Shipping Division.
Neale Rosanoski, 14 April 2005

Coastal Bulk Shipping

[River Bulk Shipping / Coastal Bulk Shipping houseflag] image by Eugene Ipavec, 6 March 2009

A member - as is River Bulk Shipping Ltd. - of Fourwind Holdings, Coastal Bulk Shipping is established at Rochester, Kent. Website: (jump over the regrettable insolvency notice): The house flag we know from River Bulk Shipping appears here as well.

Twelve ships, all but one British registered (the one exception being the Bahamas) carry all sorts of goods. “Delivering for Britain & Europe” - see the impressive list: The Photo Gallery has a few pictures showing the house flag in action. On that matter, see the history page
“Founded in November 1951 by Tony Lapthorn with the acquisition of the 110 tonne barge "Nellie" the Company owned the biggest coastal and short sea cargo fleet flying the British Flag trading in North West Europe. Since the Company's foundation the size and type of vessel has constantly evolved to meet the changing demands of the competitive coastal and short sea trades.”

We also note that the firm operates a little port of its own on the River Medway since 1954. As to the family business, in 2003 a new investor and major shareholder caused a change of name to ‘Fourwind Holding Ltd (formerly Lapthorn Holdings Ltd)’ whereas the ‘R Lapthorn & Co. Ltd.’ became ‘Lapthorn Shipping Ltd’. The present name was adopted on 1 Nov 2006, the ships were renamed and “the house flag colours were changed from red to green to reflect the environmentally friendly service offered by the Company in promoting the water option as an alternative to road transport”.

The former house flag (R Lapthorn & Co. Ltd.) was horizontally divided red-black-red with the yellow star in the centre stripe. The characteristic star was retained but now appears on a much less contrastive background.

This Shipspotting photo by Robert J. Smith (uploaded on 22 Jun 2008) shows ‘Hoo Swan’ (currently ‘Swallow’) “seen at Ipswich on the 17/06/06”: shows the former flag (and probably England’s). Shipspotting photo of ‘Curlew’ (made by Ian G. Hardie on 2 Aug 2008) flying the flag:

Jan Mertens, 6 March 2009

Cochrane & Co., Ltd.

[Cochrane & Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 27 April 2021

Alexander Brodie Cochrane came to Middlesbrough in 1854 and set up the Ormesby Iron Works, trading under the company name of Cochrane & Co. Primarily a pipe-making company in its early days, four blast furnaces were erected to provide a constant supply of iron to the foundry where the pipes were cast. From there, the pipes were taken to the stock yard near the extensive riverside wharf. The Pipe Foundry became a separate company in 1861 but continued to operate from the same site. The company also had shares in an ironstone mine at Stanghow and several collieries in County Durham.
Cochrane & Co. became part of the Cargo Fleet Iron Co. at the end of the First World War but, in 1933, the furnaces, foundry and pipe making elements of the company were sold to the Stanton Ironworks Co. Ltd. It continued to operate as the Cochranes (Middlesbrough) Foundry Ltd until nationalisation but was closed by the British Steel Corporation in 1971.

Joan K.F. Heggie. Middlesborough's Iron & Steel Industry

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of
Cochrane & Co., Ltd. (#802, p. 75) as horizontally divided red-black-red, charged in the center with a white "C".
Ivan Sache, 27 April 2021

W. H. Cockerline & Co. Ltd.

[W. H. Cockerline & Co. Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 8 March 2004

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of W.H. Cockerline & Co. (#1664, p. 116), a Hull-based shipping company, as trapezoidal, vertically divided white-red-white-red-white-red.

The Cockerline fleet included 43 vessels, launched between 1871 and 1943, the last sold in 1954; several of them are suffixed "...ic": "Pacific", "Graphic", "Midestic", "Atlantic", "Britannic", "Tropic", "Oceanic", "Olympic", "Majestic", "Adriatic", "Germanic", "Teutonic", "Corinthic", "Gothic", "Athenic", "Cambric", "Republic", "Asiatic", "Albionic".

Archives & Collection Society

The company was owned by Sir Walter Cockerline, an infamous British millionaire. On 29 September 1928, "The Canberra Times" reported:
A millionaire Hull shipowner, Sir Walter Cockerline, has been charged with making false income tax returns involving £107,000. He was committed for trial, despite the prosecution's desire to withdraw the case due to the defendant's precarious state of health, and also the fact that he offerred to pay £300,000 penalty in advance.

The case was discussed in the Commons on 15 November 1928:

Mr. Dalton asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much Income Tax and Super-tax was lost to the revenue through the false declarations of Sir Walter Cockerline, of Hull; over how many years these false declarations extended; when they were first detected by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue; whether this loss of revenue has now been made good, together with the full pecuniary penalties prescribed by the Law; and whether the Commissioners are proceeding with the prosecution which they initiated against Sir Walter Cockerline?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Churchill). The total amount of tax involved in the case to which the hon. Member refers was £107,106; this includes Excess Profits Duty as well as Income Tax and Super-tax, and covers the period from 1913 to 1925. The investigation was commenced in November, 1925. This loss of revenue has now been made good and the full pecuniary penalties amounting to £300,000 have been paid. In view of the defendant's state of health it is proposed not to proceed with the criminal prosecution unless there should have been a material improvement in his health when the case comes up at the York Assizes next week.

Mr. Dalton. Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether this is to be a precedent, and whether in future people will be permitted to get off if they can produce medical certificates?

Mr. Churchill. No, Sir. It is not a question of precedent, but of what is the right action in a particular case under notice.

UK Parliament
Ivan Sache, 3 May 2021

Coe Metcalfe Shipping Ltd.

[Coe Metcalfe Shipping Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 30 November 2005

Coe Metcalfe Shipping Ltd. (Dry Cargo Vessels), Liverpool - horizontal blue-white-blue flag, in center red "C".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 30 November 2005

J.H. Collinson

[J.H. Collinson houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of J.H. Collinson (#1872, p. 126), a Hull-based fishing company, as gironned of eight pieces in turn red and blue, charged in the center with a white disk inscribing a blue "C".
Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Colne Shipping Co., Ltd.

[Colne Shipping Co. Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 20 November 2005

Colne Shipping Co., Ltd., Lowestoft - white flag, blue "C".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 20 November 2005

Comben Longstaff & Co. Ltd.

[Comben Longstaff & Co. Ltd. houseflag] image by Eugene Ipavec, 16 April 2009

A note on London-based British shipping company Comben Longstaff & Co. Ltd is found at Most of the comments are in fact the blurb for a book to be mentioned further on but the links are helpful: they lead us to b/w ship’s photos – the ‘Warwickbrook’ seems to fly the house flag: The same design is on the funnel of ‘Leicesterbroo[k]’:, that is to say, red field with white lozenge (touching the flag’s edges) bearing large red initials ‘CL’.

At company dates are given as 1933-1980 in book description (author K.S. Garrett), about 1/5 down on this page (url followed by quote):
“The company was notable for building some of the last steamers for the coal trade, and followed these with an attractive series of motorships (…) 180 photographs plus illustrations of flags and funnels used by the company's 136 ships.”
Jan Mertens, 13 April 2009

British Shipping lines: continued